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OC & Serrano Water Districts Recognized for PFAS Water Treatment Plant

Serrano Water District offices.


Staff Report • March 31, 2021

 FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. (March 31, 2021) –– Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) and Serrano Water District (SWD) were recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers-Orange County (ASCE-OC) for their work on the Serrano Water District PFAS Treatment Plant. Featured as an outstanding project during a virtual program on March 18, the award highlights the agencies’ proactive efforts to remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from groundwater supplies.


“Behind all great projects are great people,” said OCWD President Stephen R. Sheldon. “I would like to recognize Director of Engineering Chris Olsen, Senior Engineer Ben Smith and the many dedicated staff who made this critical water quality project possible. The District remains steadfast in our mission to protect and manage the Orange County Groundwater Basin because of the daily efforts of our employees. Although PFAS contamination was caused by chemical manufacturers, and not by water agencies, we are doing an outstanding job of swiftly responding to this issue and implementing effective solutions.”


The District initiated focused efforts to address PFAS following a lowering of the state’s health advisory levels for two legacy PFAS chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), in February 2020. The state’s action prompted Orange County water agencies, such as SWD, who pump water from the Basin to take dozens of wells out of service and rely on more expensive imported water for their primary drinking water supply. OCWD will design and construct 10 PFAS treatment plants, including SWD’s, with the goal of getting plants online within two years to fully utilize the Basin again.


“Our agency proactively took two impacted wells out of service in order to continue providing high quality, reliable water,” said Serrano Water District General Manager Jerry Vilander. “Through a collaborative process with OCWD and our community members, the PFAS treatment plant will support our priority to get drinking water wells back in operation later this year to continue our legacy of providing a sustainable water supply to the residents and businesses we serve.”


OCWD, cities and retail water agencies in Orange County take seriously the duty to provide reliable high-quality drinking water to residents throughout Orange County and will continue to meet and exceed all state and federal drinking water standards and regulations.

To protect ratepayers and ensure PFAS costs are borne by the companies that developed and manufactured PFAS, OCWD and 10 of Orange County’s public water agencies have filed a lawsuit.


To learn more about how OCWD is addressing PFAS in Orange County, please visit the District’s website.